As we thank Gayle Goldin for her service as our State Senator, we must turn quickly to fill the vacancy that has resulted from her accepting a position in the Biden administration. With that in mind, I would like to introduce you to who I am and what I stand for.
I grew up on the East Side, graduated from Classical High School, and went away for college, graduate school, judicial clerkships, and service in the Environmental Protection Division of the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office. I returned in 1990 to practice law and raise a family. My children attended the Providence Public Schools for middle school and high school, where they received a valuable academic education from their teachers, and a valuable social education from their classmates from across our City. I have worked to improve our community through service on the Providence School Board (2000-02), the Providence City Council (2011-18), and as a member of the East Side Public Education Coalition, which advocated for the re-opening of Nathan Bishop Middle School in 2006-09.
Through my experience as a parent and from community service, I saw many of the gaps in our City’s public schools, not only for my children, but also for the thousands of other students whose families lacked the resources we had to fill in those gaps. In the past two years, the State has taken over the Providence Public Schools with a broad mandate for reform, but has not produced results that justify the lack of accountability. Earlier this year, the Rhode Island Senate held oversight hearings to review the State takeover, providing a first element of accountability that sadly had been lacking up until that time, and which must be strengthened going forward.
From my work on the City Council, I have seen the serious financial challenges Providence faces. While I was proud to help the City avoid the insolvency crisis of the “Category 5 Fiscal Hurricane” in 2011-12, the City’s current unfunded pension liability is daunting, and the increasing obligations scheduled for the next several years threaten to crowd out even the most vital City services. Recently, the City asked the State to authorize a pension obligation bond to reduce the impact of this liability, but the proposal as presented had not been fully vetted and lacked sufficient support. I will work to develop solutions to address the City’s critical needs adequately in ways that the State will accept and adopt.
After serving on the City Council, I assisted pro bono a South Providence neighborhood association in successfully preventing the siting of a solid waste transfer station that would have added to the disproportionate share of environmental and health risks those families face. While our legal strategy succeeded for that particular project, the experience demonstrated why we need stronger laws at the State level to protect our environment and to advance environmental justice.
In short, some of the most serious questions concerning the future of both our City’s children and families, as well as our City itself, are now pending before the General Assembly. During my campaign, I will have the chance to hear your ideas and concerns about our State government, but I would like to present myself as a candidate who is committed to advocating at the State House for better public education for all of our City’s children, a stronger partnership with the State to help our City meet the daunting challenges we will face in the coming years, and greater environmental justice for all. These are not easy tasks, but I am optimistic that my experience, knowledge and skills, and record of prior accomplishments give me the best possible chance to work with the General Assembly to enact responsive legislative solutions.
If you would like to sign my nomination papers, or have ideas you wish to share, please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will be advancing my public education as a candidate.
Thank you for your consideration.